New Login   

Indian Philosophical Writing: Search for Alternative Scholarship

T.K. Venkatasubramanian

By A. Raghurama Raju
Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 2009, pp. 153, Rs. 545.00


Giambattista Vico claimed that knowledge was always constructed by humans and never discovered in nature. He further argued that the ‘human sciences’ such as history, philosophy and law achieved knowledge and understanding from ‘within’ while ‘natural sciences’ described the external phenomena. In the twenty-first century knowledge is vital to our existence and future advance of societies and civilization. The most used (abused!!) verb in contemporary academic writing of all types is the verb ‘to construct’. (Example, ‘identity’ is constructed, ‘sexuality’ is constructed). Such language is the very bedrock of ‘critical’ and cultural theory. Historians tell us that technology is culturally constructed, and of course knowledge also. Colonial conquest of India was not just the result of the power of superior arms, military organization, political power or economic wealth. Colonialism was made possible and was sustained through cultural technologies of rule also. The cultural effects of colonialism have too often been ignored or displaced into the inevitable logic of modernization and world capitalism. It is being increasingly realized that colonialism itself was a cultural project of control. Colonial knowledge both enabled conquest and was produced by it. Long before Michel Foucault made ‘knowledge’ a term irrevocably linked to power, and Edward Said opened up discussion of the relations between power and knowledge in colonial discourses, historian Bernard Cohn explored colonialism and its forms of knowledge since 1950s. During the years 1770 to 1785, the British successfully began the programme of appropriating Indian languages (Persian, the language of Indian politics and Sanskrit, the language of Indian Law and lore) and created a classical model vs ‘vulgar’ languages and also established Hindustani as the British language of command. Appropriation of languages served as the crucial component in the construction of the system of colonial rule. The reviewer had an opportunity to point out in an earlier exercise (Writing History, TBR/Jan 2009/17) that history and archive were the technologies used by the colonial state to delegitimize precolonial modes of historiography. Incidentally the key issue in the book under review is also the search for alternative scholarship in Indian philosophical writing. A. Raghurama Raju perceives that the absence of any new philosophical ‘text’ or ‘system’ in India in the last few centuries is in sharp contrast to very powerful presences of texts and systems in classical times. Enduring Colonialism: Classical Presences and Modern Absences in Indian Philosophy argues for the need to decolonize from the colonial character ...

Table of Contents >>
Please or to Read Entire Article

Free Access Online 12 Back Issues
with 1 year's subscription
Archive (1976-2011)
under construction.